Monday, July 6, 2009

The Pseudo Brahmin Syndrome - Comments...

A comment in response to my post "The Pseudo Brahmin Syndrome". I thought this comment addressed a lot of concerns people might have, and it raises a lot of relevant points, hence, posting the comment as another post despite it being longer than my actual post. :D
Arvind's Comment -

Machi.. i thot of posting this in your comments section, but then my comment(s) is bigger than you article. So, if its OK with you, you post it or jus read it and delete it.


sssss... u have too much time on ur hands.. :D

I fit almost all the descriptions of your vetti observations. Yes, I do not do the Sandhyavandhanam. And i did not do it when I was in India too. Vakkanaya veshti is also another category i belong to. For the above two, i do not have any excuses.

Yes, I support BJP and bash up RSS. Here is my observation about the RSS. I have no idea about its origins. I don’t know what their ideals are. But i hate them because of their vigilante actions. They have no right to bully/beat up/physically harm people who celebrate Valentine’s Day. We live in a free world. I'd like to do whatever i want (whatever translates to "whatever reasonable thing") that is allowed by the law of the land. I don’t like someone harassed by these idiots because they were holding hands or because their store was selling heart shaped balloons.

Yea, Eggs. I don’t eat it as such, but i eat egg products. Again, guilty as charged. But then, remember (this is as far as I know.. from what my grandma told me), if someone is a "true brahmin" he/she is not supposed to eat onions/murungakkai/kathrikkai etc etc.. apparently, these are all "madi kurachal". And if you really think about it, you cannot eat anything that has been processed. Not the chips (They might have used the same oil to fry non-veg stuff before/after frying the chips), not the cookies (baked and most probably contains eggs), not in saravana bhavan (the uyar thara seiva unavagam.. cause of the madi korachal items) nor anywhere else because you don’t know where the karandi’s and plates came from/ where they were used before, or who cleaned them or if they cleaned them at all..

Thanni.. I don’t really know where (in brahminism) they said consuming alcohol is against the principles.. But again, I cant fathom why one would want to drink too.. so, no comments there. And if you really are worried about alcohol, you shouldn’t be using mouthwash/aftershave etc etc.. Man, I’m damn sure, I wanna use both of them!

Smoking.. this is kinda interesting.. this might be my view and Im pretty sure my view is totally wrong. But I have this to say. The nicotine/tobacco is bad. But how come all my old mamas/thathas chew veththalai? And most of them with the panneer pogayelai.. Its even worse.. OK.. not just the mamas/thathas, but the paatis/athais/mamis too..

Yes, the vadhiyar mamas are supposed to educate us, the lesser Brahmins. However, we, the lesser Brahmins are also supposed to provide them with enough food/dakshinai’s etc etc for their subsistence, which I’m pretty sure will not happen unless we are forced. When that happens, the quality of the Vadhiyar mamas go down and they are forced to fleece the people thay can find. Man, we bought this upon ourselves.

Coming to the part of you considering yourself as a ”Quasi Brahmin”. I’m really sorry to say this and for being so blunt, you are not a Pseudo Brahmin, not a Quasi-Brahmin. I’d say you are not a Brahmin. That’s is. You left the punya bhoomi of India a couple of years ago and that is something that is Condemned by the shastras.

I know you do the sandhyavandhanam everyday. I have one question about the sankalpam part. How do you do it? I mean, the “bharata varshe bharatah kande meror dakshine parsve sakabde” etc part doesn’t apply at all. I’ve seen some vadhiyars here in the US say “America Varshe” etc.., but that doesn’t seem right.. or does it? Also, I thought the reason why our forefathers did the sandhyavandhanam early in the day, outside the house was because: to maximize the available working time (this made them get up early, getting ready early for the day by taking the snanam as soon as day light broke) and to get fresh air while they did the sandhyavandhanam and clear out their heads which would make them energetic. But then, if I were to do it here, neither would the slokas be relevant to this land, nor would I be able to do it outside because of the frigid weather. So, the primary purpose is not being served. Is it? Also, the Brahmins are supposed to be more leaning towards the path of learning the Vedas & stuff and not to make money. That is not happening either these days, is it? So, its either the everyone is is “Quasi-Brahmin” or not a Brahmin at all and the “pure-brahmin” died centuries ago!!

PS: I have one advice for you mom & dad. Assuming that they are thinking about finding you a girl and marrying you off after 4 years, I’d ask them to start right now. And even then, 4 years won’t be enough to find a girl with the right “Quasi-Brahmin” status! :D
My Response
No offence taken (and none intended, needless to say), every single point you raised is valid. I don't know if you went through the comments, but I'd said pretty much what you say below, albeit very indirectly and to a much lesser extent. There's a guy called Ramana (Escape...Great Escape) who raised quite similar points.
Again, the whole point of my blog was directed mainly against those people who go around flaunting themselves as Brahmins. I may not know you well, but from what I know you - Yes, you accept to being a Brahmin, but you don't practise it enough (again, this is my opinion, that's all), consciously or otherwise. But I have not seen you going around with this attitude of being a Brahmin, someone *supposedly* superior intellectually/whatever crap. Neither have I seen you trying to justify your actions with some totally random, amazingly misguided, nonsensical illogical logic. (I don't know what kind of person I come across to you as, but though I have always had strongly Brahministic feelings [sans superiority or needless/unimportant discriminative/divisive tendencies] and believe in it a lot, I never intentionally flaunted it or carried this I-am-an-uruppadi-mayiru demeanour. Apologies if I did or came across that way. This is just fyi so you know me better, as a good friend.)
I know my post is quite long, and reading it once is a feat in itself. I don't want to peethify or put vetti scene, but if you read it again, you will probably understand it a bit better. Quite like my previous post on Arranged Marriage. There is an undercurrent of satire in the whole blog post which gives away my state of confusion, though I still stand by what I say, if you understand it the way I said it.
I mean, wrt this post, why, at all do we need to be a Brahmin? We need to be good human beings, first and foremost.
I didn't want to explicitly say this, but here goes - one doesn't have to be a good Brahmin to be a good human being. But one will have to be a good human being to be a good Brahmin. And what else does it require to be a good enough (since good isn't enough) Brahmin? No idea. I said I'm a quasi Brahmin, though I think I'm a quasi-pseudo-Brahmin. You said I'm not even a Brahmin. All opinions. Who is right? No idea. We are all right. Again, what is right? :D Ok, enough...but back to focus. Why, at all, do we need to be a Brahmin? Just because we were born to Brahmin parents? I hope you agree with me, at least when I say that we need to be good human beings, upholding some quintessential virtues and be righteous. Why? I have no answer. Why do we need to be good? Why does good need to win over evil? I don't know if you do, but since most of us agree on this, and it hasn't caused any harm, we think it is right that we ought to be right (as in correct, honest, truthful...) (though very few nowadays practise it completely, despite accepting it).

>> Opposing RSS...
Sad what's happening nowadays. Though the RSS' intentions are right, the way they are apparently doing it is wrong. Anyway, I never said that we should support the RSS as well, if we support the BJP. What I intended was for people to actually know about the origins of RSS and their nationalistic activities before supporting/opposing them. Period.

>> Eggs...
Refer Again, difference in degree of practise...which is, again, subjective. What I intended to convey was that most of what I mentioned can be practised, if someone wants to be a decent-enough doing Sandhi, not eating egg-containing items, etc...not practising which has obvious un-Brahminical features. That is why I did not talk about the current-day Brahmin's pursuit of money and material happiness, which is a much more difficult and impractical thing to attempt to follow. I feel, given the number of options we have available today, we can definitely practise pure vegetarianism (as long it doesn't have "obvious" Egg/NV stuff...). It isn't quite as practical to not eat vengaayam, etc. Again, this is *my opinion*. For you, it might not be practical to not eat cakes. It is, hence, again, perception. My humility in not being afraid of being proven wrong made me express my egoistic thought that my perception is probably correct.

>> Thanni...
Manu Smriti - Canto 9, Chapter 15, Stanza 44. How I wish I could've quoted something like it! Unfortunately, I can't, at least immediately. But don't we all know the ill-effects of booze? How it can cause deterioration of thought/mind/body for man? This is something which is applicable to mankind, as a whole, and not only to Brahmins.

>> Smoking...
Fair. Totally agree.

>> Vadhiyaar mamas...
"Kodutha kaasukku ozhunga koovanum" - this is my qualm. I don't see it happening, I've seen a lot of it. My poonal ceremony, for example. Plus a few more. As for what you're saying, I don't think anyone really ill-treated them or anything, at any point of time, the way you are saying, as if we ill-treated them financially. However, "mariyaadhai kodukkaraa maadhiri nadandhunda thaana mariyaadhai kadaikkum", is all I can say.

>> Punya bhoomi...
"If anyone thinks they can be a proper correct Brahmin living anywhere but India, then they are kidding themselves as much as they would be, if they thought Pakistan is not a Banana Republic" - is another statement I wanted to add to the blog, but refrained from doing due to space & time constraints (considering my reader's plight :D). Again, if you are considering that a person can be disqualified from being a Brahmin solely because of this, it's again opinion (right or wrong, you and I don't know). It is there in writing in one of the texts, Sure, but the same texts also forbid us from eating vengaayam and the same text says a Brahmin should not earn money, his food should be earned by begging, etc. So it's just a degree of interpretation.

>> Sandhi...Sankalpam...
To clarify, I don't do the Sandhyavandanam everyday. I chant the Gayatri Japam in the morning and evening. Though I want to do it more regularly, I end up doing the full Sandhyavandanam only occasionally ==> Me a quasi-pseudo-Brahmin.
"but that doesn’t seem right" - I love you for saying this, it reverberates with truth. Totally. Plus, refer to the previous paragraph. Reiterated.

I don't know if you are aware of this serial called "Enge Brahmanan" by Cho. I tried to watch it, but didn't have enough time. Parents watched it fully. The conclusion was that there is no Brahmin on earth today. :(

Ultimately, the same question haunts me again. Why do we need to be a Brahmin? I mean, I can see a lot of sense in most of the practises, sure, but beyond that, I seriously don't know. If it is good to be a Brahmin if you are born as one, then why is Brahminism dying such a slow painful death? Let it be quick and painless...a total annihilation. If, as the Sastras say, everything goes wrong in Kali this one of those things? Then what about that single Brahmnan during the Maha Pralayam?
Questions, questions more questions...
Some confusion. No, lot of confusion. Great to think all this, but disturbing that there are no answers, or that the answers are so very inconclusive.
SO wondering out aloud. I know my writings have a high degree of not being rightly understood. Whatever. At least I can rest in the happiness that I managed to confuse a couple of others...
What say?